The Future of Customer Service

"Rachel White, CEO of Arcadis Gen, talks to our Chief Customer Experience Officer, Mark Berridge, about what great customer service means to Gen and our customers."

One of Gen’s values is customer centricity, or as we say: always looking #OutsideIn. This means that our customers’ needs are at the center of our every decision. We are driven by a desire to know our customers better than they know themselves, always looking to draw out the insight that will have the greatest impact. We do this through curiosity, empathy, patience and vision. Listening and asking questions in order to see the world from our customers’ point of view.

One of the fundamentals of customer centricity is excellence in customer service. I was reminded of this in a recent kick-off meeting with one of our new customers, District of Columbia. I asked their Director of Capital Planning what mattered to them most as we embark on our new relationship. The answer surprised me: “excellent customer service”. He went on to explain that customer service is key to working together efficiently and transparently. That embedding the right relationships and ways of working from the start, is critical for success.

Gen’s software is business-critical for our customers - fundamental to making their organizations more efficient and effective. When there are issues, it’s vital that they are resolved rapidly and seamlessly. So, it’s little wonder that so many of our customers value customer service so highly. I sat down with Gen’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, Mark Berridge, to talk about what makes great customer service, and what Gen has planned to meet the expectations of Washington DC and our other customers across the globe.

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Rachel: Mark, why is customer service so important?

Mark: “Customer service isn’t an afterthought – it’s one of the reasons organizations choose Gen. We make it clear from the start what your experience with Gen will be like. And we’re committed to living up to that promise. Once any technical implementations are complete, customer service is the enduring part of an organization’s relationship with us. Ultimately, customers want their relationship with vendors and partners to be easy – so they can achieve their business goals. Customer service is the measure of how well we’ve lived up to that expectation.”

Rachel: What about for Gen?

Mark: “We are committed to helping our customers meet and exceed those goals. But of course, we also want our customers to stay with us for the long term. Great service is the key to creating loyal customers and advocates, who recognize the long-term benefits from the service we provide. Organizations which invest in customer service are making an investment in customer retention, loyalty and advocacy; so it really is a win-win.

Customers choose Gen because they recognize the potential our products creating value for them, delivering significant return on investment. They are here to benefit from our unique combination of advanced analytics and asset experience – customer service is a given.”

Rachel: What are our customers saying on this subject?

Mark: “Luckily for us, our customers are open and transparent around their needs and expectations from the start. It’s an important part of their investment, as anything going wrong can have a significant business impact. But they’re also realistic. Customers know that things can go wrong at times, but they expect us to consistently deliver a high-quality service, resolving any issues as quickly and efficiently as possible. The things they appreciate most are Gen being responsive, empathetic, and proactive – it is those three elements that are key to building trust.

We’ve been listening carefully to our customers to understand their perspectives, what’s been working well, but more importantly where we could deliver even more value. We’re doing okay, but we’ve still got work to do in this space.”

Rachel: So, based on that feedback, what improvements have you made and what’s in the works?

Mark: “Well, one big change has been consolidating our three legacy IT Service Management Systems (ITSMs). Adopting a common way of working across the organization and moving everyone onto market-leading ITSM, Zendesk, has been a real game-changer. Not only does it make things easier for us at Gen, but customers have started to see the benefits too. We’re now more efficient, resolving issues faster and empowering customers with real-time dashboards where they have complete visibility of their issues.

We are now taking the next step on our maturity journey, moving to a Service Management Office, another significant step-change in our customer service offering. Personally, I’m really excited about this, and I believe it will add a huge benefit to our customers.

We’re also growing our Customer Success function to ensure our customers achieve their business goals with Gen. Every account will have a dedicated Customer Success Manager who will engage regularly, with formal quarterly business reviews, shifting us from traditional reactive customer support to value-add proactivity.”

Rachel: Can you explain more about the Service Management Office?

Mark: “Sure, the Service Management Office is the umbrella that brings everything together in one place, broadening our reach and making sure our customers are getting the best of Gen at all times. It’s made up of two parts, an Operations Hub, and a Service Hub - the team on the frontline, resolving issues as they happen. The Service Hub expands our offering to include a dedicated 1st line team supported by technical specialists to minimize touch points and escalations. This benefits our customers through reducing resolution times. Our Operations Hub is where it gets really interesting – this is where we shift from being reactive to being proactive – covering things like predictive and problem trend analysis, continuous improvement, automation, infrastructure management and deployment.”

Rachel: The way we work has changed tremendously in the past year. What impact has that had on customer service, and what do you see on the horizon?

Mark: “I wouldn’t say the changes we’re making are a direct result of the pandemic. However, the acceleration we’ve seen in technologies and mindsets that enable remote collaboration and virtual working has helped immensely. The key question for every business is how do we make life easier for our customers? How do vendors create seamless experiences through real-time support, available 24/7, no matter where in the world you’re based?

The companies that will succeed are ones that are empowering their customer support with technology – starting to anticipate issues before they arise and leveraging their data and analytics tools to make the move from reactive to predictive and prescriptive support. The future of great customer service isn’t just about logging and fixing issues, but about responding, learning, communicating and improving – using data to build relationships for customer success.

One of the ways we’re starting to leverage technology is with the addition of WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform (DAP), which allows us to engage with users with training and support directly within each product, providing seamless interactions.”

Rachel: What do these changes mean for customers of Gen’s new Software as a Service products like AppliedInsight

Mark: “That’s where things get really exciting. Enterprise customers are inherently sticky. They’ve invested significant time and money implementing and integrating bespoke software solutions, and we have a commitment to provide them the best support the market has to offer. But with SaaS, customer experience is the difference between success and failure. Given the ease of switching providers, get customer service wrong and your SaaS customers will go elsewhere.

As more organizations explore the SaaS model, the importance of customer service will come to the fore. SaaS businesses must take advantage of the technology available. They must prioritize constant feedback capture and communication, moving to real time customer monitoring and support.”

Find out more about Gen’s next generation analytics apps at www.arcadisgen.com/appliedinsight.

Author

Image of Rachel White

Rachel White

CEO

Rachel is a future-focused, digitally-enabled business exec and CEO, with expertise in leading the development, articulation and execution of meaningful, people-oriented, actionable strategies. She embraces organizational transformation and has a proven track record of supporting businesses and their people to navigate change and unlock their full potential.

Mark Berridge

Mark Berridge

Customer Experience

Mark is passionate about delivering a consistently awesome experience for Gen’s customers, whilst ensuring they achieve their desired outcomes. He champions a user-centric approach to onboarding and makes sure we’re bringing the voice of our customers into everything we do – making sure everything from daily continuous improvements to big-picture strategy are grounded in customer insight.

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